Erin Baldwin said it was her time as a student at the College of Saint Benedict that first sparked her interest in international higher education issues and programs.
So it’s fitting that it is that area in which she will be working closely with her alma mater over the course of the next year.
CSB and Saint John’s University are part of the group of 13 institutions participating in the 19th Cohort of the American Council on Education’s Internationalization Laboratory.
It’s a process that, according to the organization’s website, “provides customized guidance and insight to help colleges and universities achieve their internationalization goals.”
In all, more than 175 institutions have participated in the program since it began in 2002. Each lab institution is assigned an advisor or advisors to help guide them through the program. Those advisors are internationalization experts with deep knowledge and experience in the field.
Baldwin, an associate director with ACE, will be working with Penelope Pynes, the former Associate Provost for International Programs at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and current ACE Senior Associate for Internationalization, as co-advisors to CSB+SJU.
“The opportunity to study abroad was a big factor in my decision to go to Saint Ben’s originally,” said Baldwin, a 2007 CSB graduate and former Bennie hockey player who is now in her fourth year at ACE and is based in Washington, D.C.
“As a student-athlete, I thought that taking a full semester to live and study overseas, missing part of the athletic season might pose a problem. But Saint Ben’s couldn’t have been more supportive. I readily credit my experience there, and the encouragement to pursue multiple interests, with where my career has taken me. At the time, international higher education wasn’t on my career radar. But a lot of the experiences I had (at CSB) spurred me to pursue other opportunities in this field.
“For example, my first job in international education was at the Australian Embassy here in Washington, which I got after completing an internship there. An internship I secured because of my semester in Australia through Saint Ben’s.
“My experience at CSB+SJU has really been a thread that has run throughout my professional story,” she continued. “So to have the chance to work with the people there and have these conversations around internationalization and global engagement is really exciting and full-circle for me.”
Four representatives - CSB+SJU Center for Global Education Director Kevin Clancy, Academic Dean Barb May, Professor of Communication Shane Miller and Associate Professor of Global Business Leadership Deborah Pembleton - will meet with the rest of the Internationalization Lab cohort and lead CSB+SJU through the lab journey.
They, in turn, will work with a steering committee at CSB+SJU to examine a wide range of areas including study abroad programs, internationalizing the curriculum on campus, broadening global engagement opportunities, examining international student services and inclusivity and more.
The CSB+SJU steering committee is scheduled to hold a kickoff meeting on March 1.
“We’re really looking at what does it mean for CSB and SJU to engage globally,” Clancy said. “It’s an action-orientated process, and the hope is that when the year is over, we have concrete recommendations and a strategic plan in place for how the schools can best engage as a whole on the global stage.”
CSB+SJU joins a varied list of schools and institutions in this year’s cohort. That includes larger schools like Louisiana State University, Nevada-Reno and Central Florida, as well as another Minnesota school in Minnesota State-Mankato.
Fellow private colleges St. Norbert (Wisconsin) and Augustana (Illinois) are also members, as is an international representative in Education New Zealand.
“Each institution comes into the program for varying reasons and with varying outcomes in mind,” said Baldwin, a Park Center (Minnesota) High School graduate. “One thing I know that Kevin and the team at CSB and SJU have spoken about is building on the already-strong foundations these institutions have in the global space. They’ve done a lot of really important foundational work already. Now it’s a matter of using this lab process to bring all of the pieces into alignment, and work across both campuses to co-create a vision for comprehensive global engagement at CSB+SJU.”
“The ACE Internationalization Lab will allow us to have a truly holistic conversation about what global engagement looks like at CSB and SJU,” Clancy added. “We already have a solid start. Being part of the cohort will allow us to have a larger conversation about how we continue to develop that.”